--from the archives of The Broadkill Review
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Sid Gold is the author of three collections of poems and a two-time recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Poetry. His work has appeared recently in Flock, Free State Review, Gargoyle and Innisfree Poetry Journal. His fourth book, "Crooked Speech", is forthcoming on Pond Road Press. A native New Yorker, he lives in Hyattsville MD.
The Art of Listening
It took me some months
to figure out you weren’t coming back,
that you’d never return the phone calls,
acknowledge the cute cards,
knock on my door unexpectedly
& then I began visiting every & any bar
or cafe that seemed likely
within three adjoining counties, trying
to guess where a shy, dark-haired woman
fully intending to forget me
would go for a drink with co-workers
or out to dinner with friends.
I even composed a manner, a look,
for the occasion of our chance encounter.
My beard would be closely-cropped,
freshly-trimmed, & I’d be wearing
a leatherjacket, somewhat worn,
but one you’d never seen or borrowed.
My demeanor would be vulnerable
but strong, independent but longing.
Merely my appearing in your line
of vision would be enough to draw you,
mumbling barely-intelligible excuses,
from the side of another man at a party
or away from a table ringed
with celebrants on New Year’s Eve.
Open-armed, you’d hurry toward me,
your eyes tearing with forgiveness,
surprise, & perhaps a splash of regret.
As always, time passed —
the years get blurry here —
& with nothing to show for my trouble
but an assortment of roadmaps,
an impatience with strangers,
I began to remember us more clearly
at the end, exhausted, the both
of us, by sorrow & negotiation,
began to hear again your parting line
like the refrain of a jukebox ballad
whose verse we never quite learned:
We’re all talked out,
Baby, we’re all talked out.
As a youngster in grade school
I found myself during choral practice
placed in the listener’s group,
a designation intended to silence
those hopelessly tone-deaf or off-key.
After a week or so, the music teacher
told me I wasn’t too good at that, either.